'Skins slip in second half, fall to Bucs, 35-13

Ahead 13-7 in 3rd quarter, Washington allows four unanswered touchdowns

Nfl Week 6

October 13, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- This time, there would be no end-of-game theatrics for the Washington Redskins.

After each of its first five games was decided by three points or fewer, Washington saw its run of close games come to an abrupt halt as the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers blistered the Redskins, 35-13, before 85,490 at FedEx Field yesterday.

The defending Super Bowl champions spotted Washington (3-3) a 13-7 lead early in the third quarter before scoring 28 unanswered points to improve to 3-2.

"They kicked our tails," Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said in his post-game news conference. "They're a better team than we are. Not much else to say."

The mood in the Redskins' locker room was just as somber.

"I'm so disappointed right now," said linebacker LaVar Arrington. "I think we really believed in ourselves during the week. I think we came out here ready to win a ballgame. I don't know what we keep doing wrong."

The problems were numerous for Washington. The offense collected 275 yards, but only 112 in the second half.

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who finished 21-for-32 for 211 yards, completed eight of 11 passes for just 76 yards in the second half, was sacked four times, and threw two interceptions, including one to linebacker Derrick Brooks, who returned the ball 44 yards for the game's final score.

The Bucs have recorded at least one sack in 65 consecutive games and at least one takeaway in 46 straight contests. Both are the second-longest streaks in the NFL in the past 20 years.

But perhaps the biggest factor was the play of a familiar face. Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson, who spent two seasons with the Redskins and threw for a career-high 4,005 yards in 1999 before team owner Daniel Snyder gave his job to Jeff George, connected on 22 of 30 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns in his first return to Washington.

"This is not a one-man show. It's a total team deal," said Johnson, who hasn't been sacked in 150 pass attempts -- a franchise record. "I felt like we just had to make some plays, and we weren't making plays on some of those three-and-outs."

Indeed, Tampa Bay played the first 35 minutes as if it still hadn't recovered from last Monday's lead-squandering overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The offense endured three three-and-outs during that span -- including a wasted opportunity on a Simeon Rice sack and fumble recovery on the Redskins' first series of the game -- and Washington used a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ramsey to wide receiver Darnerien McCants and field goals of 33 and 51 yards from John Hall to build a 13-7 lead with 10:21 left in the third quarter.

But Johnson directed the Bucs on an eight-play, 80-yard drive and completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to backup tight end Todd Yoder to take the lead.

Two plays later, Rice and defensive tackle Anthony McFarland hit Ramsey as he released a deep throw and safety-turned-cornerback Dwight Smith stepped in front of wide receiver Rod Gardner to intercept the ball at Tampa Bay's 9-yard line.

The Bucs took advantage by marching 91 yards on 12 plays, and Johnson found rookie tight end Will Heller on a 4-yard pass to make it 21-13.

Johnson's first three touchdowns came off bootlegs, which flustered Spurrier.

"We never figured out that little naked pass where they fake one way and throw it the other way," Spurrier said. "We knew they had those plays. Maybe they just out-executed and outsmarted us."

After forcing the Redskins to go three and out, Tampa Bay needed just five plays for Johnson to heave a 39-yard touchdown bomb to wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson to extend the advantage to 28-13 with 8:48 left in the game.

That would seem to have given Washington time to make things interesting, but Rice, who abused Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels to the tune of a career-high four sacks, pulled on the back of Ramsey's jersey as his arm was moving forward, and that appeared to be enough to alter the ball's path to Brooks, who returned it untouched with 6:55 left in the game.

Spurrier pulled Ramsey from the game after that play, but the coach said the move wasn't based on Ramsey's sprained left shoulder or ineffectiveness.

"I thought we couldn't catch them," Spurrier said. "He wanted to go back in, but I said, `No, I don't want you to get beaten up any more than you are.' "

NOTES: Tight end Robert Royal suffered a crack in the femur bone of his right leg during the first half and will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam to determine the severity of the injury. The status of running back Trung Canidate (mild high right ankle sprain), cornerback Fred Smoot (chest wall contusion) and defensive tackle Jermaine Haley (right thumb injury) are also up in the air. ... With six receptions for 60 yards, Laveranues Coles became the first NFL wide receiver since 1970 to catch at least five passes in 19 consecutive games.

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